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House Answers Trump's Travel Ban With Bill

Biden administration backs curbs on presidential power
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 21, 2021 5:32 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Democratic-led House passed legislation Wednesday designed to constrain a president's power to limit entry to the US, a response to former President Trump's travel ban covering five Muslim-majority countries. President Biden reversed the travel restrictions in one of his first moves in office, easing limits on Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as North Korea and some government officials from Venezuela. But Democrats say Congress has a responsibility to prevent future administrations from enacting similarly broad restrictions. The bill passed the House by a vote of 218-208, the AP reports. It is unlikely to clear the Senate, with Republicans broadly opposed. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said presidents from both parties have used their authority to exclude narrow groups of people from entering the US, such as certain North Korean officials. "But former President Trump abused this authority, twisting it in ways that were never intended," he said. The White House supports the measure.

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Trump had proposed a broad, all-encompassing Muslim ban during the presidential campaign. Within a week of him taking office in early 2017, the first travel ban was announced with little notice, causing chaos at airports and sparking protests across the nation. The Trump administration was forced to revise its original order twice to resolve legal problems concerning due process, implementation and exclusive targeting of Muslim nations. In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the ban in a 5-4 decision. It determined that the ban was within a president's authority over immigration and responsibility for keeping the nation safe. Under the House bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Judy Chu, the secretaries of state and homeland security must first determine that the entry of certain aliens would undermine national security or public safety before the president could order a temporary travel restriction. That requirement is a "constitutional absurdity," Republicans said. "You know, in this bill, the president may only act if the secretary of state allows him to act, and that is backwards," said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.

(Read more Trump travel ban stories.)

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